Last week, we reported on the spread of UKIP Derangement Disorder (UDD). To be clear, UDD isn’t about the irrationality that may be found within the UKIP fold, but the strange effect that the very existence of the party has on others.
Alarmingly, there’s been an outbreak of UDD in the Cambridgeshire Police. In a complete over-reaction to a complaint (reportedly from a UKIP councillor) two officers visited the home of a blogger to question him about anti-UKIP material posted online. Accounts differ as to whether the blogger was asked to take down the material, but as no offence had taken place there was absolutely no reason for him to do so – or for the police to have intervened in the way they did.
This particular strain of UDD has now mutated into the idea that UKIP are ordering the police to silence their opponents. After the Cambridgeshire story came to light, someone dug up a press release in which a UKIP candidate called on the police to stop the intimidation of Ukippers attending a public meeting.
Intimidation is not too strong a word for some of the protests directed against UKIP – including one earlier this year where Nigel Farage was hit over the head with a placard. No one should face this level of threat – and, indeed, it is against the law. Nevertheless, it is more amusing for some commentators to suggest that UKIP want to shut down free speech and peaceful protest.
Another example of UKIP Derangement Disorder can be found in a recent piece by Nick Cohen for the Spectator. Cohen is an interesting and often courageous writer, but he too has a weirdly distorted view of Britain’s fourth party.
His essay on political apostasy starts off well enough:
“No one is as hated as deeply as the apostate. Ordinary opponents are nothing in comparison. They are unbelievers, who know no better… The apostate, by contrast, has known the truth and rejected it. There can be no excuses for his treachery, no defence of ignorance the law.”
He gives two powerful examples of ideological heresy and the inquisitions that seek to suppress it: firstly, George Orwell who found himself on the wrong side of Britain’s wartime establishment when he tried to publish Animal Farm; and, secondly, the pandering of the contemporary left to Islamic extremism.
But before those two examples, he gives this one:
“The Tea Party, Ukip and the Conservative right cannot have a polite argument with leaders who contradict their views. They must be ‘Republicans in Name Only’ or ‘Tory Wets’…”
Apparently, the centre-right is so afraid of Nigel Farage that “thought about Europe appears to be impossible”:
“The fear that pervades conservative Britain of speaking out of turn, or stepping away from the crowd, will make centuries-old arguments [for British involvement in Europe] seem as shocking as the arrival of heresy in a medieval nunnery.”
One can understand why Cohen would want to balance a dig at the left with a dig at the right – but in regard to the latter he’s got his heretics and inquisitors muddled-up. By any objective standard it is UKIP that represents the divergent tendency not the established orthodoxy. In case he hadn’t noticed, the policy of the Conservative Party is “in Europe not run by Europe” with not a single Conservative minister in the ‘out’ camp (at least not publicly).
Furthermore, while some Ukippers don’t mind dishing out insults – ‘LibLabCon’, ‘EUSSR’ etc – they get worse in return i.e. ‘racist’, ‘xenophobe’, ‘bigot’, ‘fruitcake’, ‘nutter’ and so forth. One might also note that the abuse directed at UKIP doesn’t just come from lowly internet trolls, but also from newspaper columnists and senior politicians.
It is odd that someone as intelligent as Nick Cohen cannot see who the outsiders are in this matter. Whether UKIP are wrong or right (and personally, I believe them to be more wrong than right), it is they who are the underdogs and not a political establishment that is overwhelmingly in favour of our continued membership of the EU.